Dr. Ana Espino is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology and Immunology at the School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.
Dr. Espino earned her Ph.D. degree in Parasitology and Biochemestry from the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana, Cuba in 1997, where she also completed post-doctoral training in Molecular Biology and Immunology. She also has a post doctoral in Molecular Parasitology from the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.
Dr. Espino’s field of interest is molecular and parasite immunology, Fascioliasis, caused by Fasciola hepatica, represents a recognized unsolved agricultural problem responsible for economic losses estimated in around US $3 billion per year to rural agricultural communities and commercial producers worldwide including the United States. Recent reports indicate that F. hepatica is also a major human pathogen and is increasingly recognized as a cause of significant human diseases, with 17 million people infected. Schistosomiasis, the second major parasitic disease in the world after malaria, is a chronic, debilitating and sometimes fatal disease affecting 200 and 300 million persons worldwide. Vaccines represent the most attractive long-term alternative to control fascioliasis and
Three projects are ongoing in Dr. Espino’s laboratory. They relate to the identification, purification and molecular characterization of Fasciola hepatica and Schistosoma mansoni antigens with immunoprophylactic potential; the role of the Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the interaction with excretory secretory antigens of F. hepatica at early stage of infection, and the elucidation of the immune mechanism involved in the protection induced by two novel DNA vaccines against F. hepatica, as well as the assessment of the protection level conferred by these proteins in experimental models. Dr. Espino has filled two patent applications to the United States Patents and Trademarks Office. Dr. Espino’s research has been funded by the MBRS-SCORE Program from 2000-2004, an NIH-NIAID R21 grant from 2003-2006, and an RCMI Pilot Project from 2006-2009.